Here are five tips that will help strengthen the presentations you can’t deliver in person.
Like many marketers, I prefer to meet and present in person. But for better or worse, most of my clients tend to be headquartered in other states. And business flights aren’t as convenient, affordable or even advisable (think green!) as they used to be.
That leaves phone and web conferencing as my main channel for connecting with clients when I’ve got something to show and tell. (For some reason, video conferencing isn’t popular with my clients!)
- Clearly communicate the meeting objectives in advance of the meeting—anything from a few lines to a full-blown agenda. It’s more than a courtesy; it’s an opportunity to head off any disagreements about the objectives sooner rather than later.
- Test your conferencing equipment and links at least 15 minutes before the meeting. If that sounds like too much time, I can tell you from experience it isn’t! Few things are more embarrassing and stressful than explaining technical glitches to remote clients while frantically signaling for someone to fetch the tech guru, who may be on his lunch break.
- Review the time frame for the meeting – how long is everyone committing to? Does anyone have to leave early? Disaster strikes if your key decision maker has not communicated she needs to leave 45 minutes into the presentation. Does anyone everyone have a “hard stop” at the end, or is there some wiggle room? Adjust your presentation flow if needed.
- From greeting to goodbye, take control of the “room.” Introduce your team, review the agenda, be sure you know which is the “mute” button, and don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if the line gets crackly or you hear snips of internal conversation on the other side.
- Smile. I’m not kidding; people can hear it. Overall, your body language can still affect your tone, so even when people can only hear you, it pays to stay aware of it.
Bonus tip: Replace “presentation” with “sale” to get in the right frame of mind. As marketers, you’re always selling your point of view: to management, to sales, to the teams you lead or participate in. In the marketing agency world, we’re selling to our clients and partners as well as our internal teams, whatever side of the table (or conference call) we sit on.
Several of my tips are adapted from the charmingly-named Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid blog, which offers 12 Presentation Techniques for Agency People.
Do you have any top tips for connecting more effectively via conference calls? Let’s share ideas in the comments.